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Michelle Obama Won't Be 'Leaning In' Anytime Soon

The former first lady keeps it real on her book tour.

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Former First Lady Michelle Obama kept it all the way real on the latest stop of her successful "Becoming" book tour at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on Saturday. In a moment of full disclosure, Obama expressed the difficulties of "having it all."


"Leaning in" is a formula that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg introduced in her 2013 book "Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead."

The concept of "Leaning In" refers to a philosophy that became a metaphor to argue that women should assert themselves more in the workplace. When Sandberg first presented the theory, it drew controversy for implying that women were holding themselves back from their careers; more recently it's drawn backlash for not being as effective as Sandberg originally hoped.

Obama weighed on the concept. She gave a frank explanation on the challenges women still face, and even dropped an expletive in the process.

"Marriage still ain't equal, y'all. It ain't equal. I tell women, that whole 'you can have it all'—mmm, nope, not at the same time, that's a lie," she said. "It's not always enough to lean in because that s***t doesn't work."

The honest commentary drew a rousing applause from the audience.

She continued: "I thought we were at home, y'all. I was getting real comfortable up in here. All right, I'm back now. Sometimes that stuff doesn't work."

Obama expressed, in her opinion, what works and what doesn't — and that the expectation of "having it all" isn't always feasible. "That whole 'so you can have it all.' Nope, not at the same time," she said.

Last year, Sandberg admitted that the world was "not better off" when it came to women having leadership roles.

"We are stuck at less than 6% of the Fortune 500 CEO jobs and their equivalent in almost every country in the world," she said. "There were 19 countries run by women when Lean In was published. Today there are 11. Congressional numbers have inched up a tiny bit. And so, overall, we are not seeing a major increase in female leadership in any industry or in any government in the world, and I think that's a shame."

*Reader Question* Do you think women can have it all and keep their sanity? Is it easier said than done?

The Conversation (4)
Cassie03 Dec, 2018

Good for Michele, and I'm glad the swear got some attention to the important topic. I'm reading her book now, and interested to note that her father worked every day in his life and her mother left work to be a stay at home mom who managed the hlacouse, tutored her two children so well that they both skipped second grade. Problem with Lean In mentality is how it perpetuates the male view of the world as an economic engine of progress. Yet life is Both Yin AND Yang. We need work with others, to be effective and engage - AND we need a place that supports rest, relief and care for the fragile. That's the piece we leave out, since we seem to insist on focusing only on one point at a time.

A family needs to be a place where all have the goal of creating clean, calm, predictable space for tasks, learning, eating, recreation - all have roles, not each individual on their own, but learn how to support each other, so we can continue to do that through life, none left out. Extra family and extended family members are great too, but the home needs time for rest, travel and learning, recovery from work. That need in my book, surpasses the need of individuals, and looking at life without child's views and experiences, leaves huge gaps in our tasks as humans on a fragile planet.

03 Dec, 2018

The only way, I learned, that a working woman can "lean in" at work is if she has a lean in mate at home; especially if children are in the picture. Learned: Once my mate passed, it was harder for me to lean in. even with the assistance of family. Someone has to be minding the home front.

Paula Dance is North Carolina's First Black Female Sheriff

Even with this win, North Carolina's law enforcement agencies are still predominantly white and male.

Paula Dance has become the first Black female sheriff in North Carolina's history.

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Louisiana Secretary of State Candidate Could Make History for Black Women

Collins-Greenup would be the first Black woman elected to statewide office in Louisiana.

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Running a grassroots campaign with little help from the Democratic Party, Gwen Collins-Greenup could make history as the first Black woman to be elected to statewide office in Louisiana. She would become Louisiana's first female Secretary of State since 1932, and the second ever in the state's history.

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Statue of Shirley Chisholm is 'Long Overdue,' Says NYC's First Lady

The first Black Congresswoman in the U.S. to be honored in her hometown of Brooklyn. And Viola Davis is set to play Chisholm in an upcoming biopic.

Late politician Shirley Chisholm, a trailblazer who worked to improve the lives of others, became the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968. Fifty years after she made history, New York City announced it would honor Chisholm with a statue in her hometown.

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One of the Last Survivors of Infamous Oklahoma Riots, Dr. Olivia Hooker, Dies at Age 103

She was one of the last survivors and few first-hand witnesses of the Tulsa Race Massacre that led to the destruction of Black Wall Street.

Screenshot from Twitter

Dr. Olivia Hooker, one of the last survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots, passed away on Nov. 21 at age 103.

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Viral Video of 'Grey's Anatomy' Star Shows How White Women Can Be Allies for Women of Color​

Shonda Rhimes shared a video where Ellen Pompeo demands diversity during an interview.

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Shonda Rhimes, creator, head writer and executive producer of "Grey's Anatomy," shared a video of the star of her show, Ellen Pompeo, talking about how white people need to be advocates for diversity. It's gone viral with more than 2 million views.

"As Caucasian people, it's our job, it's our task, it's our responsibility to make sure we speak up in every single room we walk into. It's our job because we created the problem," Pompeo says in the video, during a photo shoot for Porter magazine.

Pompeo called out the lack of diversity in the magazine crew, and in Hollywood, without mincing words.

"This day has been incredible, and there's a ton of women in the room," she said. "But, I don't see enough color. And I didn't see enough color when I walked in the room today."

Actress Gabrielle Union is seen in the video giving a look of approval.

DiversityInc COO Carolynn Johnson said that both white women and women of color have a responsibility to each other to say there needs to be equality across the board.

"We need diversity of all walks represented," said Johnson, who in October launched DiversityInc's annual Women of Color and Their Allies event.

She said that people of color have a responsibility to talk about what's wrong and how it can be improved.

"We need to communicate," she said.

And for allies, "their responsibility is to recognize where there is no diversity and be bold enough to say something about it."

Johnson offered the example of Christopher J. Nassetta, CEO of Hilton (No. 10 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list). She said he was in one of his executive board meetings and looked around and said there wasn't enough women in this room.

So he did something about it.

"He was present enough in the moment to look around and see what was missing … not what he was comfortable with," Johnson said.

For white women who choose to be allies, "It's also your responsibility to know these stories and share them," she said.

Allies should also ask questions like: Why aren't there people of color on the set, as interviewers and production staff, scholarship recipients or in executive boardrooms?

Allies should hold decision makers accountable for age, class, ethnicity, ability, and gender diversity. And Johnson said, allies need to be helpful in the solution piece.

"We have countless examples of people who are doing this work … who are present in their everyday interactions," Johnson said.

She called attention to the fact that sometimes leaders don't hear what they need to from the vantage point of the people who need support, but from the vantage point of others in similar positions.

Reader Question: Do you think those who don't have Ellen Pompeo's position in Hollywood would speak up the way she did?

Non-Whites Make Up Half of Post-Millennial Generation: Study

Latinx post-Millennials represent the future of American voters. Democrats need to pay attention for 2020 and beyond.

REUTERS

A new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data finds that the "post-Millennial" generation, which are those born after 1996, "is already the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, as a bare majority of 6-to 21-year-olds (52%) are non-Hispanic whites."

The only population of youth that has grown substantially since the age of the Baby Boomers in 1968 is Latinx. They were born in the U.S. and go to college before entering the workforce.

In the 2018 midterm elections, millions more Latinx voted than in 2014.

According to Pew, "Latinos made up an estimated 11 percent of all voters nationwide on Election Day, nearly matching their share of the U.S. eligible voter population."

Exit polls for the midterms this year said 67% of youth overall voted for a House Democratic candidate and just 32% for a House Republican candidate, according to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

Thirty-eight women of color — Black, Latinx, Native American — won seats of real power—including the youngest Congresswoman, Alexandria Oscario-Cortez, 29, a Latina.

However, Democrats lost Texas and Florida because they didn't pay attention to voter decline among Latinx (36.5 percent) across the country.

Pews' analysis on changing demographics correlates with author Steve Phillips' discussion in "Brown Is the New White," which explains that people of color and white progressive voters are America's new majority.

Democratic candidates of color and women (Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama) have outperformed previous candidates in statewide elections in Florida and Georgia over the last 20 years, Phillips wrote in a recent New York Times column. Abrams garnered more votes than any other Democrat in Georgia's history.

Phillips says Obama's playbook is what wins: mobilization over persuasion, along with inspiring people of all races to vote, and being strong in their positions on racism, Medicaid expansion, criminal justice reform and gun control.

"Yes, the strategy of mobilizing voters of color and progressive whites is limited by the demographic composition of particular states. But what Mr. Obama showed twice is that it works in enough places to win the White House. And that is exactly the next electoral challenge."

Phillips said, "These campaigns laid the groundwork for future Democratic success, because the thousands of volunteers, operatives and new voters will pay dividends for the 2020 Democratic nominee."

Reader Question: Do you think the 2020 candidates will tailor their approach to meet the demands of a diverse generation?

Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole Selected as Board Chair and Seventh President of National Council of Negro Women

"My heart is overflowing with gratitude for this honor to serve as the seventh president of this organization that has been a voice of and for Black women," said Dr. Cole.

The National Council of Negro Women (NCMW) selected Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole as its chair and seventh president during the closing session of their 58th Biennial National Convention in Washington, D.C. Ms. Ingrid Saunders Jones, who served as NCNW's chair for more than six years, will continue to serve the organization as the immediate past chair.

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Michelle Obama Talks 2020 Presidential Election

"I think, at this point, everybody's qualified and everyone should run," Obama said, in jest. "I might even tap Sasha!"

We've never had a POTUS and FLOTUS like the Obama's before, and we've never had a Trump before. Two very different presidencies, one wrought with bigotry, racism and rampant white supremacy, and scandal, the other full of hope, unity and service. Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama says we need to pay attention to who is qualified in the next presidential election.

"I implored people to focus and think about what it takes to be commander-in-chief," Obama told Robin Roberts in a "20/20" interview, in reference to women electing a misogynist in 2016 instead of a qualified female candidate.

She expressed the importance of voting, but went beyond that to describe the kind of person qualified to run this country.

"The commander in chief needs to have discipline, and read, and be knowledgeable. You need to know history, you need to be careful with your words," she said.

"I'm going to be looking to see who handles themselves and each other with dignity and respect so that by the time people get to the general (election), people aren't beat up and battered," the former first lady, who said she will not run for president, stressed.

"I think this (Democratic nomination) is open to any and everybody who has the courage to step up and serve."

She even joked that at this point, anyone is qualified to run for president —even her daughter.

"I think, at this point, everybody's qualified and everyone should run," she said on Good Morning America "I might even tap (her younger daughter) Sasha!"

Obama and her husband were about service before, during and after the presidency.

Candidates like Trump, drunk with power, have a past, present, and future that mirror that intoxication.

Coming off midterms there are questions about what to do next — investigations of Trump, what lessons did we learn articles, predictions of the 2020 election, but getting back to what a leader, a public servant of this country is supposed to do — lead by serving its people — is a message that voters can review candidate criteria with.

"It's amazing to me that we still have to tell people about the importance of voting," she said. "People have to be educated, they have to be focused on the issues and they have to go to the polls if they want their politics to reflect their values."

Obama explained, "Where I'm at right now is that we should see anybody who feels the passion to get in this race, we need them in there. Let's see who wants to roll up their sleeves and get in the race. That's what the primary process is for."

In looking at Trump's record, most of his decisions have been made to serve himself. His record of cheating employees out of money, not paying taxes, discriminating against Blacks in terms of who could claim residency in his buildings, misogynistic comments, scandals around payoffs for affairs — none of it shows signs of service.

Obama writes in her new memoir "Becoming" how Trump's division and bigoted messaging tactics to garner a movement to propel his campaign impacted her own family's safety:

"The whole [birther] thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks."

In current times, his decisions in the White House usually involve a lot of divisive words to spark attention from white supremacists, "look what I did" moments on twitter for validation, and little about what the country needs, but instead what the country should be afraid of.

And that is not why you get the job in the first place.